Players Talk About Louisville & Elite Eight

The Florida Gators five starters spent over 20 minutes in front of the national media in Phoenix on Friday. The big game looming in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against Louisville poses some big questions for the Gators as they look to better their Elite Eight finih a year ago. Here is the video and written transcript of the media session.

Florida starters Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy, Patric Young, and Brad Beal meet and talk to the media before Saturday's huge Elite Eight match up with Louisville.

Video Part 1

Video part 2

Q. Can you talk about this trip and being away from home so long and any funny stories you might have, did you forget your room numbers or anything like that?

KENNY BOYNTON: I don't have any funny stories for you. But I think it's definitely brought us closer. We've been around each other pretty much every day. I think it's been a fun trip, it's a fun ride, the whole NCAA experience.
PATRIC YOUNG: It reminds me of AAU, it's very similar to that, on these long road trips where you're just hanging out with your guys, just in the hotel room, just watching TV and clowning around. I don't really have any funny stories to tell. But there's not a dull moment.
ERVING WALKER: Just what both of those guys said. It's been a great trip bonding with these guys and getting better. And we're happy to be staying here for another day.
Bradley BEAL: Like the last three guys said, we're really enjoying this moment. Bonding together and enjoying one another. And it's really brought us closer. Like everybody else said, we're excited to be here.
ERIK MURPHY: Like the last four guys said (laughter) we're just having fun right now, playing these games, being together on the road. We don't want to go home yet.

Q. What can you take from being on this stage last year and playing a lot of minutes in the Elite 8, coming into this game?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think last year that we learned basically it's a 40 minute game. I think we played good probably for 25 minutes. I remember looking up at the score, we were up by 11 and we grew a lead off of rebounds and loose balls. I think we have to go out tomorrow and play our full 40 minute game.
ERVING WALKER: We learned that loose balls and all those things are key in games like this. Teams at this time of year are really good at those type of things. We lost to Butler last year because of it. We have to go out and play hard and enjoy the 40 minutes.

Q. You were talking about learning from the Butler game. It's a 40 minute game. But I can think of a couple where you could say the same thing, a lapse against Kentucky or at home against Tennessee. How do you try to build from all the experiences you've had this year, last year, and bring it altogether in one 40 minute game on Saturday?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think basically it's just the focus level with our whole team. I think whatever Coach Donovan gives us, the plan to the game, executing that plan will help us. I think in the tournament we've done a great job at getting loose balls and rebounding together as a team. I think if we keep that up we'll be good.
ERVING WALKER: Just the focus for the whole 40 minutes. We've lost a few games where we had the lead or a quick lapse to understand that, that could be the game. So we don't want to have any lapses.

Q. I'm guessing you're not going to say yourself who is the most obsessed guy with shooting 3's before practice, after practice, late at night, who is that guy?

PATRIC YOUNG: It's either Brad or KB. I know those guys get in the gym a lot. I don't see them all the time, but I hear from the managers that those guys get in the gym a lot at night. I always see Brad after practice, getting some extra shots up before practice, as well. KB does the same. And it shows out on the court.

Q. Their big guy, Louisville's big guy last night played 40 minutes and played really well. But what would be some keys in the game to try to get him into some foul trouble like you did with Crowder?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think the big guy, he's a great player, he's a great shot blocker. But I think if we get Pat the ball early, establish him early and get some in the paint points, that should loosen him up. The guys do a great job at driving, not taking crazy shots. If we do a great job at that we'll get him out of the game.
ERVING WALKER: Just to play inside out and not be afraid to attack the paint. He's a great shot blocker, and if he jumps for everything, hopefully he'll foul a few times.
BRADLEY BEAL: For the guards, just attack the paint and be smart with the ball and then try to develop an inside presence by giving the ball to Pat and Murph and let them try to get him in foul trouble.
PATRIC YOUNG: To play 40 minutes is really difficult. To be able to play a disciplined 40 minutes would be even harder for a guy of that size. I've had to play games where I've been close to 40 minutes, and it's hard to have to come out there and show out on screens, and still run the floor. Hopefully we can get this guy to continue to guard. He can lose a little bit of discipline and get him to slip up and make a few mistakes, fouls here and there, possibly.
ERIK MURPHY: You play 40 minutes you get tired. Hopefully we can run him around a little bit and get him a little tired. With shot blockers, you can't shy away from them, you have to go at them. Maybe we can get him in some foul trouble or just finish over him by going into his body.

Q. As a Chris Paul fan and Knicks fan, I wanted to get your thoughts about Chris Paul not going to the Knicks and your thoughts on Jeremy Lin. And the second question, talk about your match up tomorrow night with Peyton?

ERVING WALKER: Chris Paul is my favorite player, but I'm not mad that he didn't go to the Knicks. I would have liked him to. But he did what's best for him and his family. Jeremy Lin has helped us out a lot and I'm happy we have him.
Peyton Siva, he's a great point guard, and I look forward to a great challenge and hopefully I'll be ready to go.

Q. Is there something that people don't know about your coach that you'd like to tell us?

ERIK MURPHY: I don't know. I don't think he sleeps too much. One thing, I don't think he sleeps too much right now. He's probably watching film all night. That's not an unknown. I guess a lot of coaches are doing that right now. But, I don't know, that's one thing.
PATRIC YOUNG: I think he's underrated as far as being funny. He has some really smart jokes that hit you hard sometimes.

Q. Like what?

PATRIC YOUNG: I don't know. If Scottie or somebody has a bad pass, he'll say something like, we're not at the Rock anymore, you can't throw those one hand passes, something. I can't do it. It's pretty much his humor.
BRADLEY BEAL: I agree with Pat, probably his sense of humor. Whenever you make a mistake or if you air ball a shot, he'll say close the door, like the wind is blowing in or something smart like that.
ERVING WALKER: I would just say he's obsessed with hard practices (laughter).
KENNY BOYNTON: I agree with all these guys. The hard practices and his sense of humor, he's a very funny coach.

Q. How do you guys explain the type of defense you're playing in the tournament, whether it's an X's and O's explanation or a focus explanation?

ERIK MURPHY: I think it's a little bit of both. In the tournament you have a higher level of focus, obviously, or try to every game. And what coach says when he tells us his game plan, we try to execute that. So I think it's a little bit of both.
PATRIC YOUNG: I think we have to really be locked in every day on how we can improve as far as with the scouting and whatever coach is trying to tell us so when it comes to a game situation it's just second nature that when Murph or I need to switch on some type of screen, we can communicate with each other, we know where each other needs to be. When we lock on those kind of things and focus on getting better, our defense, our level just continues to improve.

Q. How do you guys get points inside this year, it's very different than it was a year ago? Can you talk about the adjustment that has forced for you guys to get them the ball or for you guys to get points inside this season?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think we done a great job at finding Pat, when he's ducking in. Erik Murphy, he's a big fighter in us getting points. Some teams are undecided whether to stage hedging out on us and Erik Murphy. I think when the big man leads us, we do a great job at driving, shooting the floater, things like that.
ERVING WALKER: I agree with Kenny, I think teams are so focused on taking the 3 point shot away from us it makes it easier for us to get in a lane or throw it inside to Patric or Erik. And they get one on one coverage and do a good job of scoring.

Q. You guys know a lot is going to be made about Coach Donovan going against Coach Pitino, their relationship. How much are you aware of their relationship and what's it like for him going against somebody he's that close to?

ERIK MURPHY: Obviously Coach Pitino and Coach Donovan have a great relationship. They've known each other, go way back. I think both of them coach pretty similar, have pretty similar styles. And it will just be interesting to see how the game pans out tomorrow.
BRADLEY BEAL: Well, they both obviously respect each other. But I think they probably won't they won't make the game about them so much as about both teams. It's probably going to come down to how we play and how the other team plays, not too much about them coaching against each other.
ERVING WALKER: I think it was a great honor for both of those guys to be in the Elite 8. They love each other. But I'm sure there will be no love lost in winning the game tomorrow.
KENNY BOYNTON: I agree with Erving.

Q. What's it like being gone from school for so long and how do you keep up with everything that's going on academically?

BRADLEY BEAL: I guess it's not too bad. I mean, more basketball, less school. We probably don't mind going to class. But at the end we're still going to have to make up the work when we get back, so it doesn't matter.

Q. What was the sort of relationship you formed with your coach when he was recruiting you?

BRADLEY BEAL: Coach Donovan and I had a strong relationship when he was recruiting me. The biggest thing I liked the most about him when he was recruiting me is he didn't want to always focus more on basketball. He wanted to get to know me and different things like that. He didn't guarantee me anything when I came in. That's really what drew me into this school and this program is that he really didn't guarantee me anything, and I had to work for it all.

Q. I know you guys have all seen the video of coach playing in the Final Four. What was more impressive, his play or the shorts they had to wear?

KENNY BOYNTON: Those were some small shorts. But he was a very impressive player. I'm not sure, but I want to say he averaged about 20, 21 points during the NCAA tournament. He had like a 38 game. He definitely was a great player throughout his career.
ERVING WALKER: Yeah, he's a great player. He let's us know about it all the time (laughter). He's just a great player.
BRADLEY BEAL: I agree with Erv. He always let's us know about it, when he's making passes and drills, he's like this is the way you're supposed to pass the ball or something like that. He was a great player back then.
PATRIC YOUNG: He was definitely a great player, like these three guys just made clear. Those shorts were kind of crazy, though. I can't lie about that. But he was able to get it done scoring offensively, so he knows how to help us in that aspect, as well, scoring.
ERIK MURPHY: Yeah, like everybody else said, he's a great player. Shorts were a little short. My dad wore those when he played, too. Obviously that didn't affect how he played.

Q. Just a few weeks ago you guys were getting questions about the potential of your season being lost because of the losses down the stretch. Can you talk about what happened during that time and Coach Donovan has said that even with the losses he felt that you were not playing badly. Can you talk about what you were seeing during that time and whether or not you were seeing that progress that other people were questioning.

ERVING WALKER: I think we were playing close games, but we were losing to some good teams. We weren't necessarily playing bad, but our weaknesses were coming out in the losses, which were defenses and rebounding. I think us getting a full week to practice before the NCAA tournament helped us out a lot and focusing on our weaknesses.
PATRIC YOUNG: There was never really any doubt in our minds that we were losing the season or anything like that. There was never any kind of atmosphere that I felt within our team that we were losing the season, anything like that. And coach just kept encouraging us and telling us that we're not losing these games because there's something we can't do, we're just losing these games because off little mistakes and hustle plays and things like that. And we came into practice and came in ready to work every day. Since then we've become a completely different team.

Q. If you watch ESPN or CBS or read anything that's written about this team, the reputation is they're a 3 point shooting team, they live and die by it. Do you embrace it or are you glad in these three tournament games that you can win without those?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think everyone already has an opinion on this team that we're a 3 point shooting team. That's what everyone is saying. We're not shooting a great 3 point percentage. Overall in this tournament it shows that we can score in different ways.
ERVING WALKER: We just like to focus on our defense. I've got to say, that's the main thing for us during this run. And we're not just a 3 point shooting team. Everyone has an opinion, but we can only focus on ourselves.
BRADLEY BEAL: Like those two guys said, everybody has their opinions. I think we're doing other things that impacts our ability to win. We can't be known just as a big shooting team.

Q. In retrospect how much do you think the loss to Butler last year fueled you guys to get back here?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think it fueled us a lot. We're a different team this year. But I think we were so close last year, and so close really doesn't cut it. For us to be back in this position, I'm happy for our team to be back here. We're just ready to play.
ERVING WALKER: Yeah, like Kenny said, we were so close last year, and it just left a bad feeling in our mouth and we just wanted to get back here and try to complete it this time.

Q. Did you all learn anything from playing a player like Anthony Davis that could help you against a shot blocker like Gorgui Dieng?

ERVING WALKER: We know you can't go in there and throw something up because he'll probably block it. Great shot blockers, we learned we have to keep them away from the rim, space them out and get the ball inside to Patric and let him attack them or Murph on spread, pick and rolls, hopefully get open 3's.
KENNY BOYNTON: I agree with Erving, that you can't throw up any shot because it will get blocked and probably lead to a fast break offensively for them. We have to be smart offensively.

Q. Your guys' ability to take care of the ball through this run, very low turnovers, limited mistakes, can you talk about that and how you guys have focused in in terms of limiting turnovers?

BRADLEY BEAL: The last couple of teams have been great defensive teams. So we had to really take care of the ball. And they're great transition teams, especially Marquette. It was important for us to take care of the ball and make smart decisions with it.
ERVING WALKER: We've been a really good offensive team. And we like to get shots up by the rim. If we turn the ball over we can't do that. We've focused on taking care of the ball.
KENNY BOYNTON: I think we've done great drills in practice in being physical, not turning the ball over. And I think it's carried over in the game, showing that we're taking care of the ball.

Q. Obviously you want to keep winning to stay on this trip, what has been the biggest headache of being away from home so long?

PATRIC YOUNG: Biggest headache? I guess just sitting around, waiting for something to do, like before we were waiting for the game. And yesterday there was absolutely nothing to do. I was driving myself crazy. I was annoying Will so much because I was going crazy in my room. I didn't have anything to do, I was so bored. Pretty much that's it, just sitting around in your room all day.

Q. How did you guys feel you handled Marquette's pressure late in the game, the press, and how do you feel that will carry over, prepare you for Louisville?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think overall we did a great job. I can only remember one time turning it over. We just basically knocked down free throws, in that sense.
ERVING WALKER: I think we did a good job, limited the turnovers and didn't let them steal the ball. I think it will be good preparation against Louisville, because I think they're similar in terms of trying to put pressure on the ball.
BRADLEY BEAL: I agree with both of those guys. I think we did a pretty good job of handling the ball. We had to just keep making smart decisions in the back court and just try to fight off their pressure. We know Louisville is a pretty good pressing team.

Q. I'm wondering if psychologically there's a difference in going up against a mid major team like Butler, even though they were kind of a proven team, and going up against a Big East team like Louisville? Do you think you get more mentally prepared against a team like Louisville?

KENNY BOYNTON: I think if you're in the Elite 8 it really doesn't matter who you play, whether it's Louisville or Butler, you've got to be prepared, either way. Butler came to play last year and at the end of the day they played harder than us. And we definitely don't want to go out tomorrow and say that Louisville came out and played harder than us.
ERVING WALKER: I think there's no difference in preparation wise, if you get to this point, every team is good. So you've got to respect the mid major or the high major team.

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